Monday, August 22, 2011

High hopes for sustainable farmers.

A few days ago, Associated Press reported that dozens of universities now offers courses, certificates, or even degree programs focused on sustainable agriculture. AP noted as U.S. farmers age and retire, this new generation of sustainable farmers should have no problem stepping up to the challenge. Growing trends of farmer’s markets should fuel the growth in demand even further. This is an exciting emerging market right now and I can only imagine its popularity sore high as we learn more about the benefits of sustainable practices.

“Now is the time to learn,” the market seems to be screaming, “now is the time to change our ways and learn how to sustain our planet one farmer at a time.”

Why am I so optimistic about this in light of our recent doom and gloom economic outlook? Why am I happy and chipper about a few added “bandwagon” courses in a failing education system? I recently saw a FOX news report questioning the whole “Green” movement, questioning if this bandwagon can carry America out of its debt and back on top as the super power it once was. I dismissed FOX’s skepticism. Their ideal is to go back to the old way of doing things, squeezing the life out of my precious planet for their profit. Let them do that, I say, I shall find ways to convince you that a more sustainable way is better and that you should enroll in those college courses and learn how to make your own corner of the planet more sustainable and healthy for your community.

Why am I so optimistic about this new trend despite some news analyst’s dubious reasoning?

Because I still believe Americans can invent their way of their debt crisis and reclaim the top spot on the international stage. Our economy may be failing, but that’s because our old model of profit first is meeting its limit set by the scarcity of our planet’s capacity. Our debt crisis is not a problem of will power, we will pay our debts; our debt crisis is a problem of capacity, people are panicking that we may have reached our limit and consumer confidence is shaking. In this kind of weak commercial climate, no wonder our stocks are wild rides and our social programs seem so much more burdensome.

At time of crisis, our spirits should be high. We should have the confidence to carry ourselves forward. America is still at the forefront in scientific research and great innovations. China has called for tax incentives and research grants to innovative farming techniques that reduce the use of fertilizers and other scarce resources such as water. Their new Circular Economy Law seems more like a friendly battle cry; let the competition begin, they say.

If I know anything about this generation of Chinese innovators is that they are fiercely competitive. I went to grade school and middle school with some of the now innovating forces in China. Having endured the top ranked k-12 programs in Beijing, I know these are folks who will not take anything less than perfection. Getting a 98% on a test was shameful to my peers. I suspect they have carried their competitiveness to the table today.

But having lived in America for the last 20 years, I know Americans first loves a challenge but is also not afraid of failure. There is a bit of adrenalin junky in every American innovator that their Chinese counterpart lacks. While the Chinese may be willing, they are still learning form us the innovation how’s. I’ll venture to guess these dozen or so new university sustainable farming programs will attract many of these Chinese students, but let’s not forget we are the creators of these courses and we are behind the innovations. Let’s take advantage of that and stay one step ahead of this race to save our planet. If China is to rise as the next new market force, let’s not neglect that market and enter the realm of its demands. Our supplies will fill our coffers to pay our debts.

One thing I want to caution: I have been seeing a lot of finger pointing recently as China emerges as a dominating power. China is turning a finger to point at the West’s inefficiencies, “look, get your acts together in Congress and calm your pointless riots in your own streets before you come and lecture us about some superfluous human rights problems.”

Let’s not get caught up in this who’s right and who’s better business. Let’s be the better man, woman, and nation, to say “you may be right in some places, we may be right in others, let’s learn from each other and work together to improve all aspects of our sustainable planet – people, planet, profit.”

Confucius tells us that the world is a relational thing. One’s existence is necessarily depended on the welfare of another. The harmony of coexistence is the true pursuit of human knowledge, let’s not forget that healthy competition is the best way to facilitate the emergence of that harmony – thus a sustainable planet.

Roger Pepperl, spokesman for Wenatchee, Wash.-based Stemilt Growers, the nation's largest organic tree fruit producer, told AP:

"We're always looking at the university for our future ag workers . . . . Organic and sustainable specialists don't just bring their unique skills to the farm, but can make our conventional farming better, too."

High Hopes by Doug Hyde
My hopes are these sustainable specialists are also globalists and collaboration-ists, leading the pact to export intellectual properties to China for a return profit. I hope there are enough philosophers in the bunch to help spread the good will of sustainable thinking through healthy competitions and market growth – either socialist or capitalist market place, let it be a healthy market place.

Here’s to high hopes.

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